Writing this conference wrap up has been more difficult than I could have imagined. Not because I didn’t know what to say, but because I have just so much to say! What to talk about? I’m sure I could make this into a 5 part series easily. I won’t though. This is MY Bliss and I’m happy to share it with you.
Before leaving for Blissdom Canada, I wrote this post about why I was going. I didn’t really know what to expect to be honest. I was very nervous but excited. It was my first time. I was intimidated by the idea of so many people. I thought showing up with my teeny-tiny blog would make people look down on me. However, I felt lucky that I happen to have an amazing friend who is WAY more outgoing than I am and, who not only was my room-mate for the weekend, was able to drag me along side her to meet everyone.
I was looking for inspiration. I was looking for a way out of the blogging hole I had dug myself (unorganized randomness).
I definitely found it. Along with a lot more that I was not expecting.
The other bloggers
What I expected: I laugh because I was so afraid of these other people that would be in attendance. I was fairly new at socializing online with other bloggers and had pretty much kept to myself for a long time. I have been blogging for 2+ years and I know many awesome bloggers have been at it for a lot less time than me and are much “cooler” than I. I was afraid of walking into the door and being back in high school. Cliques and judgement. I was expecting a lot of “I have 1 trillion-billion monthly views, how about you?”
What really happened: I walked in the door and immediately felt welcomed. Throughout the weekend I met and interacted with countless amazingly nice, fabulous people. Not once was I asked about my “site stats” and instead I was asked about my actual blog. “what is your blog about” was a question asked most frequently. While I went to this conference to find my niche as I was very much lacking in this area – no one seemed put off by this as my response. If anything, they were intrigued by my vision for my blog and wanted to know more. There was no line drawn between “big” bloggers and everyone else. Someone who was a newbie, I can honestly say I felt absolutely no division and everyone was so incredibly welcoming.
What I expected: Very similar to above, I expected the sponsors to really only pay attention to you if you had a “big” blog. I expected a few little dinky-freebies/samples that I’d never use and to be shoved out of the way when anyone important came by.
What really happened: Man, I was wrong!! I got so much sponsor love, I felt very spoiled. They wanted to chat… about me and their brand and they genuinely seemed interested in the conversation. Upon returning home, I began getting emails from a few of the ones that I spent the most time talking with – genuine emails that were written to me and not a form letter. I couldn’t believe it. Me, little ‘ol me, had people actually interested in finding out more about what I stand for and being told how I might be able to help THEM! And let’s not forget the fantastic freebies!! I had everything on display in my living room for days until hubby finally said it was him or the stuff (and I did take a moment to think about the answer). 😉
What I expected: I have been to conferences and conventions before for other purposes and I often dread the actual sessions. I was expecting them to be a bit dry and not apply much to me. I had my bathing suit in the back of my mind and was ready to skip out and go for a swim instead…
What really happened: Knowledge slap-in-the-face!!!! LOVED my sessions, especially the microsessions. I signed up for From Blogs to Mags, Growing an Engaged Social Community and Monetizing your Blog. While I definitely felt these sessions were just too quick and I know they had so much more to teach us than they had time for, they were incredibly informative. I took so much of what was said to heart and I am already putting much of it to use. I have even since contacted one of the session leaders about some advice I needed after conference was over and she was happy to help me out. Amazing!!!!
I should also mention that I also did the Create track over the weekend and was in Marilyn’s “Get Creative. Get BIGstorming!” workshop and WOW – mind blown. She gave me so much inspiration that I actually went home and did a small word-association task on my own – and managed to come up with about a dozen blog ideas in just a few minutes.
What I expected: Not much really. Honestly I figured most people would want to go to bed early so the evening events would be pretty dull.
What actually happened: Everything!!!! I would say the majority of my networking with other bloggers happened after hours. The hotel restaurant/bar was a great place to mingle, exchange business cards, have a drink or 5 and just chill out after the long day. LOADS of laughter and definitely no dull moments. The people I met after hours are the ones that I found myself really connecting with after conference. I absolutely believe that to get the whole Blissdom experience, you must stay at the hotel and network outside of conference hours.
Keynote speakers & panels
What I expected: I have a habit of zoning out when a speaker is in a large room so I fully expected it would be no different at Blissdom.
What actually happened: The complete opposite. With every keynote speaker and panel member, I was glued to their every word. I was emotional. I was engaged. The panel on Social Etiquette was a huge eye opener and I think every single one of us left a changed person. Of course, I cannot forget Drew Dudley, who put me on the spot asking me: “Why do you matter”? and really made me think. (which by the way, I can now ROCK the answer to that question after realizing just how much I am loved).
Highlights from the weekend: Definitely the Great Canadian Outdoors Party with Tenille and Jully Black (two very talented ladies) and the PJ Party (I am now making parafan wax treatments a regular thing). Kirstine Stewart from Twitter Canada talk. All the amazing food (omg I’m still dreaming of some of that food at the Welcome Reception)… and finally… my celeb-crush moment: meeting Erica Ehm!!!! Which by the way, I will add, I saw her walking around all conference and in typical fan-girl-who-suffers-from-anxiety way, I chickened out several times. At one point we were both walking to the elevator and I just stared forward, not saying a word. Finally I got the nerve on the last day to go talk to her. It was awesome! I do hope to write for her one day… ok, adding that to my goals!!!
So while I could go on and mention so many other aspects of conference, it all brings me to one fantastic place. I came home, tired, sore and while you would think ready to sleep, I was ready to blog!! The ideas I had swirling around my head. The people I wanted to follow on Twitter. The engagement I wanted to start creating with my blog community. I am feeling confident and ready to take on the world. My blog is no longer “little’ in my eyes and whether I have 1 site view or 1 trillion-billion, I need to create content that I feel proud of and that represents me. I matter for so many reasons and my blog is my way of sharing those reasons with the world.
While I wish I could mention every person who helped me get to this point, I know I would miss someone so please allow me to send out a HUGE Thank You to all the organizers, all the staff, the sponsors and most of all, every single blogger who I crossed paths with over the weekend. You have all had a huge hand in helping me find my bliss and I am incredibly grateful!
xo – J